To be eligible to become a Canadian citizen ( naturalized citizen), you must meet the conditions in all these areas:
- permanent resident status,
- time you have lived in Canada,
- income tax filing
- language skills,
- criminal history (prohibitions) and
- how well you know Canada.
You must be at least 18 years old to apply.
To apply for citizenship for a child under 18:
- you must be the child’s parent, adoptive parent or legal guardian,
- the child must be a permanent resident, and
- one parent must be a Canadian citizen or apply to become a citizen at the same time (this also applies to adoptive parents).
Permanent resident status
You must have permanent resident (PR) status in Canada. Your PR status must not be in question. That means you must not be:
- under review for immigration or fraud reasons, or
- under a removal order (an order from Canadian officials to leave Canada).
Time you have lived in Canada
You must have resided in Canada for at least three years (1,095 days) in the past five years before you apply. This does not apply to children under 18. You may be able to count time you spent in Canada before you became a permanent resident if it was during the past five years and you had temporary resident status or a protected person status.
This means each day spent physically in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person before becoming a permanent resident within the last 5 years will count as one half day, with a maximum of 365 days, towards your physical presence.
Temporary resident status includes lawful authorization to enter or remain in Canada as a:
- worker or,
- temporary resident permit holder
A protected person is someone who:
was found to be in need of protection or a convention refugee by the Immigration and Refugee Board, or
received a positive decision on a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
Income Tax Filing
Regardless of your age, if required under the Income Tax Act, you must meet your personal income tax filing obligations in three tax years that are fully or partially within the five years right before the date you apply.
Canada has two official languages—English and French. To become a citizen, you must show that you have adequate knowledge of one of these languages. First, if you are between 18 and 54, you must send proof of your ability to speak and listen in English or French with your citizenship application. The citizenship application guide contains the type of proof that we will be accepted.
Second, how well you communicate when you talk to staff or a citizenship judge if and when you are interviewed . At these times, you will have to:
- take part in short, everyday conversations about common topics;
- understand simple instructions, questions and directions;
- use basic grammar, including simple structures and tenses; and
- show that you know enough common words and phrases to answer questions and express yourself.
A citizenship judge will make the final decision on your application, including how well you can communicate in English or French.
Criminal history (prohibitions)
You cannot become a citizen if you:
- have been convicted of an indictable (criminal) offence or an offence under the Citizenship Act in the three years before you apply,
- are currently charged with an offence under the Citizenship Act,
- are in prison, on parole or on probation,
- are under a removal order (Canadian officials have ordered you to leave Canada),
- are being investigated for, are charged with, or have been convicted of a war crime or a crime against humanity, or
- have had your Canadian citizenship taken away in the past five years.
If you are on probation or are charged with a crime and waiting for a trial, you should wait until after the probation is done or your trial is over to apply to become a citizen.
Time in prison or on parole does not count as time you have lived in Canada. Time on probation also does not count if you were convicted of a crime. If you were on probation due to a conditional discharge, that time may be counted toward the time you have lived in Canada.
How well you know Canada
To become a citizen, you must understand the rights, responsibilities and privileges of citizenship, such as voting in elections and obeying the law. You must also show you understand Canada’s:
- institutions and
All you need to know is in the free study guide, Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship. The questions in the citizenship test are based on this study guide.